The Contrarian is back to help you find some potential diamonds in the rough to help round out your tournament lineups for Week 16. Before digging into this week’s selections, let’s take a look at some of the games that may fall off the radar for the masses and contain some of this week’s hidden gems.
Under The Radar Games Of The Week
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
While there may be some interest in some members of the Titans this week, it’s a pretty safe bet that members of the Jaguars will fly well under the radar. It’s been an abomination of a season in Jacksonville, and that resulted in the club firing head coach Gus Bradley after last week’s loss to the Texans. The focus is clearly on 2017 at this point, but that doesn’t mean we should totally disregard the Jaguars. In fact, that’s part of the reason why they become a source of intrigue over the last two weeks of the season.
For starters, there’s something to be said for a ‘new coach bounce,’ as in everyone snaps to attention and gives it their all once the head cheese is canned. Interim head coach Doug Marrone is an experienced NFL hand that will have the troops properly motivated for the task at hand, and there may be some value we can scrape from the Jaguars. Additionally, Bradley was only the first domino to fall, and there are plenty of decisions to be made about the roster composition of the 2017 Jaguars.
For starters, Blake Bortles is at the put up or shut up point of his career. He can seriously enhance his chances of continuing to be viewed as the future of the Jaguars with a strong performance over the season’s final two weeks. He can be rostered for a song on DraftKings as well. Bortles is a boom-bust option in the highest regard, but his $5,000 salary can free up a lot of space to roster the week’s skill position studs. For stacking options, Allen Robinson or Marqise Lee make the most sense and are comparably priced. As for the running game, the tandem of Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon makes rostering a Jaguars back a risk, but there’s a chance the team could want to see a little more out of the younger Yeldon this week.
Things are a little simpler for the Titans, a team that remains squarely in the mix for a playoff berth. They’ve reeled off three wins in a row,. Including last week’s improbable victory over the Chiefs. Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray, Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker all deserve consideration this week, and you can easily make a case for all four of them. That’s slightly tempered by the fact that the Jaguars have actually been decent defensively, but players from a team with something to play for this late in the season automatically become intriguing options.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans
This game is another matchup between teams with differing levels of motivation, but it also looks like a nice spot to glean some value from. The Texans have pulled the plug on the Brock Osweiler experience for the time being, and we find ourselves with a minimum priced quarterback at the helm. Tom Savage may have some more success completing downfield passes than Osweiler, and perhaps it will provide a late season kickstart for the Texans offense.
There’s no question that the talent is there, as Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins went pretty high in season-long drafts in the offseason, and electric rookie Will Fuller has shown plenty of flashes despite the limitations of the offense. As for the Bengals, we have a veteran squad that’s essentially playing for pride at this point, but the smart money says that they come to play for the remainder of 2016.
The offense may also perk up a bit with the return of A.J. Green, and that bodes well for the affordable Andy Dalton this week. Jeremy Hill is affordable and productive, and he makes sense as an RB2 this week against a Texans squad that is not as tough defensively as their reputation would suggest. The remaining pass catchers take a little bit of a hit with the return of Green, but Tyler Eifert should continue to be a big red zone target.
Let’s take a look at this week’s top contrarian selections, starting at the quarterback position.
Kirk Cousins, $6,800. All of the quarterbacks at the $7,000+ price point are in appealing matchups this week, and we can expect all of them to be pretty popular. That leads us to look further down the scale for a spot to mix it up, and the first potentially low owned name we land on is Cousins. Outside of last week’s zero touchdown outing, he’s had himself a solid run of games since Washington’s Week 9 bye. He’s facing off with a Bears squad that can be had to boot, and the projected total of 47 points is nothing to sneeze at for a late December tilt. We’ll look for Cousins to get back to his multiple touchdown throwing ways, and enjoy the upside at a reasonable ownership percentage.
Andy Dalton, $5,300. We touched on Dalton briefly, and we like the chances of the Bengals offense getting its groove back with A.J. Green back in the fold. The Texans held Blake Bortles in check last week, but prior to that they allowed multiple passing touchdowns for five consecutive weeks. That’s not the stuff that elite pass defenses are made of, and we’ll expect Dalton to restart the multiple scores against streak. As an added bonus, he’s dirt cheap. A signal caller with multiple score upside a little bit north of $5,000 is always intriguing, and it frees up a ton of space to roster the week’s high-priced studs.
Carlos Hyde, $5,800. We highlighted a similar scenario involving Hyde a few weeks back, and we’re going back to the well this week. Our previous scenario laid out the fact that there would be a ton of interest in the 49ers opposing running back - as there always is - and that we should zig on over to Hyde, as he was facing off with a team that was a paper tiger against the run. Lightning has struck again, and there will be plenty of interest in Todd Gurley having a personal redemption game this week. That may come to fruition, but there’s a good chance that Hyde’s no slouch this week either. The Rams can be had on the ground, but there are weeks where they come to play and put up a strong front. We’ll look for this to be another off week for them, and for Hyde to offer similar upside to Gurley at a much lower ownership percentage.
Jay Ajayi, $5,600. Here’s another back that’s facing off with a defense that can lead users to look the other way, but they should really be zeroing in on it instead. The Bills were absolutely gashed by LeVeon Bell two weeks back, and Latavius Murray had himself some laughs the week before that. Ajayi has also gashed them this year, as he ran for 214 yards and a score back in Week 7. No promises that he puts those numbers up again, but we like his prospects for a productive Week 16.
Larry Fitzgerald, $6,100. After destroying many rosters in Week 14 with a miserable line of 3/12/0, Fitzgerald showed signs of life last week by posting a 7/57/0. That’s not the production we’ve grown accustomed to out of Fitzgerald, but we’ll take it as a sign that he’s starting to pull the bat out against Father Time. The Cardinals season has been thoroughly disappointing, as they entered the season looking like a Super Bowl contender, and head into the final two games with a ton of question marks. We’ll look for them to finish out the string competitive, as Bruce Arians is far too good of a coach to have his team fold up like a card table. While the Seahawks remain a strong defense, they can be had through the air, and we like Fitzgerald to finish out the year in style - starting this week.
DeAndre Hopkins, $5,200. Brock Osweiler will now be taking up residence on the Texans sideline, and perhaps that points to the team’s vertical passing game beginning to come out of hibernation. While Tom Savage is not the long-term answer, he looked ok in his limited time last week, and even provided - dare I say it - a spark to the passing game. If you blinked, you missed it, but it was there and the team showed signs of life. That makes us optimistic that it’ll carryover into Week 16, and that should be music to Hopkins ears. He entered the season as a first round pick in season-long drafts, and currently finds himself in the dead to me pile for DFS purposes. That makes it a fine time to resuscitate him at a bargain basement price, especially in a game we like as a potential under the radar source of fantasy goodness.
Martellus Bennett, $4,100. The Jets have been absolutely housed by opposing tight ends over the past few weeks, and there’s a pretty good chance that the folks up in New England have picked up on that little nugget. There’s no clear cut must play at the tight end position this week, and we can see Bennett flying under the radar as he has delivered several eggs to DFS lineups this season. However, he’s also capable of a monster showing that no one saw coming, and this looks like a spot where it could happen. Tom Brady will enjoy running up the score on the woeful Jets, and we’ll see if Bennett can be one of the beneficiaries.
Charles Clay, $3,200. Don’t look now, but the Bills coaching staff has finally realized that Tyrod Taylor has a nice rapport with Clay. What’s more, Clay is hauling in the targets that are beginning to head in his direction - including a score in each of the last two games. It’s unclear exactly why the Bills have waited until this late in the season to allow them to rekindle their spark, and it becomes even more puzzling considering that the Bills spent several weeks with a dearth of talent at wide receiver. We’ll place those unanswered questions aside and enjoy the rapport while it lasts - and before the rest of the DFS community catches onto it.
Green Bay Packers, $3,300. The Vikings had the smackdown laid on them last week by the Colts, and it wasn’t pretty. The shellacking had all the makings of a season ender, and at the very least it led to a week in which there were a ton of question marks swirling around Vikings facilities this week. Quite simply, the Packers are playing well and fighting with everything they have for a playoff berth. The Vikings started off the season in full control of the NFC North, and proceeded to fall over like a house of cards. It may be too late for them to rebuild it, and we’ll look for the Packers to find some turnovers and sacks this week.
New Orleans Saints, $2,400. We’ll preface this one with the fact that it’s outside the box, and that there won’t be too many people clicking the plus sign next to the Saints name. The game projects to be a shootout, and rostering a defense from one of those games is typically a recipe for negative points. However, these two clubs combined for a grand total of 27 points a few weeks back - in a game that was supposed to be one of the week’s top shootouts - and Jameis Winston has not been shy about throwing the football to his opponents over the past few weeks. He’s thrown five picks over his last four, and been sacked seven times over the past three. This is a boom-bust option that’s not for the faint of heart, but there’s actually a compelling case to be made for at least considering it.
Thanks for reading The Contrarian for Week 16. Enjoy the games this weekend, best of luck with your lineups, and have a fantastic holiday season. Feel free to hit me up anytime on Twitter - @cm_feery - or email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with questions or comments.